Located in the South of Scotland, the Sweetheart Abbey was built in the 13th century. Today the ruins of the church are still standing.
Its story is about Lady Devorgilla founding this monastery in tribute to her late husband, her sweetheart...
Below is my guide to plan your visit with tips, map and photos.
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Why visit the Sweetheart Abbey in Scotland?
Founded in 1273, the Sweetheart Abbey (or in Latin Dulce Cor Abbey) was built in memory of John Balliol by his grieving widow Lady Devorgilla.
Today remain the ruins of its church St Mary and some rocks delimiting the various rooms that used to surround it. The church tower still stands in the center of the church.
Below is a short video to give you an idea of what a visit could look like - get a virtual tour!
More photos after the planning tips.
PLANNING TIPS & Map - Sweetheart Abbey, Scotland
Getting to Sweetheart Abbey near Dumfries - Map
- In the South of Scotland, along A710 in New Abbey Bridge
- 20 min South of Dumfries
- Postcode: DG28BU
- Below is a Map to help you locate Sweetheart Abbey:
The GPS coordinates and location on a practical map are available in my Travel Guide eBook, that helps you plan your road trip:
Plan your dream trip around Scotland!
- Sweetheart Abbey opening hours - 9:30am to 5:30pm (April to September), 10am to 4pm (October to March - might be closed some days) - as everywhere last entry 30min before closing time
- Price - Adult price - £6 - included in the Explorer Pass - check out latest price and times here
- Toilet at the carpark
- Small village around
- You can see it from the carpark if you just want to have a look from the outside
- Plan 30min to 1 hour to explore it depending on your interest
- Further on the Central Trail is Dundrennan Abbey which I chose not to visit. The arches are greater in height, but the ruins are smaller.
- Check out the best rated accommodations around Dumfries
Where to stay in Scotland?
- Edinburgh to explore the fascinating city - see best rated accommodations
- Portree central to explore the isle of Skye - see best rated accommodations
- Glencoe to take the time in the magnificent valley - see best rated accommodations
- Ullapool for the West coast on the North 500 - see best rated accommodations
- Thurso for the North coast and ferry to the Orkneys - see best rated accommodations
- Kirkwall to explore the Orkneys - see best rated accommodations
- Inverness for the famous Speyside whiskies - see best rated accommodations
Find more inspiration in my article about where to stay in Scotland
Access to Sweetheart Abbey
The village of Newtown Abbey surround the ruins. The main road leads to a corn mill and has a lot of charms.
When you enter the site through the arch, the ticket booth is on your right.
Need to rent a car in Scotland?
- Compare prices on my favorite platform: Discovercars.com - one of the best rated comparison sites!
- Choose the car and company you prefer (prefer a compact car for the single-lane roads)
- Consider their full coverage option - I always take it for peace of mind!
- Book early to have a large choice of vehicles!
The abbey from the outside
A lot of the St Mary church is still standing. The church was planned in the shape of a cross. As you can see the central bell tower is still standing as well as many of the arches. Whereas the rest of the monastery where the monks lived was destroyed.
The tower reaches 28 meters (92 feet).
Below is the view from the parking lot:
And a view from the ticket booth.
Sweetheart Abbey History
- Founded by Devorgilla of Galloway
- Cistercian Monks lived and worshipped there from the late 13th century
- The Abbey was first known as the "New abbey" because there was already Dundrennan Abbey nearby
- They specialized in extracting salt from seawater
- In 1289 Dervorgilla dies and is buried in front of the high altar
- In 1292 her son becomes King of Scotland
- In the 14th century the monks add a watermill
- In 1731, a new parish is built in the cloister
This display from the site, shows what the monastery looked like in its full glory:
The love story of the Abbey of Sweetheart
This Cistercian Monastery was founded by Lady Devorgilla in memory of her late husband Lord John Balliol. When he died in 1268, she had his heart embalmed and placed in a special casket. She called it her "sweet, silent, companion". She buried her husband at the Sweetheart Abbey. When she died in 1289, she too was buried there, and the monks named the abbey Dulce Cor meaning Sweetheart.
Exploring the ruins
I must admit it was not my favorite abbey, I preferred the atmosphere of Melrose Abbey and the Grandiose of Jedburgh Abbey in the Borders. But the settings, the state of the Bell tower and the arches detailed made the exploring interesting. Here is a selection of pictures of Sweetheart Abbey:
Red sandstone and detailed work
Below are some more close-up photos to show you the charm of the red sandstone and the detailed work in the arches
Other highlights of South Scotland to consider visiting:
- The fascinating triangular castle of Caerlaverock - read article
- The ancien site of Cairnholy - read article
- The Borders Abbeys including Melrose Abbey and the photogenic Jedburgh Abbey
- The inspiring Scott's view - read article
- And the impressive forts, East of Edinburgh: Dirleton Castle and Tantallon Castle
Planning a trip to Scotland? Check out my guide to help you plan your road trip:
Plan your dream trip around Scotland!
And keep track of your own trip!
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